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  WINDY CITY TIMES

HUD claims decline in homeless count for 2017
From a press release
2017-12-06

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CHICAGO — Homelessness declined in Illinois according to the latest national estimate by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ). While overall homelessness increased by 0.7% nationally since 2016, since 2010 there was a decline of 13.1%. HUD's 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found the follow regarding homelessness across Illinois:

— In Illinois, local communities reported that 10,798 persons experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017, a decrease of 6.8 percent ( or 792 persons ) since last year and a decrease of 25 percent ( or 3,597 ) since 2010. Homelessness among families with children decreased by 15.2 percent ( or 700 ) across the state since 2016. Since 2010 homeless people in families decreased by 42.8 percent ( 2,923 ).

— Meanwhile, local communities in Illinois report the number of persons experiencing long-term chronic homelessness increased by 44 percent ( or 451 individuals ) and homeless Veterans decreased by 85 or 9% since 2016.

In response to HUD releasing its annual Point-in-Time count announcing that homelessness has increased nationally for the first time since 2010, and although Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ( CCH ) does not doubt that homelessness on the rise, CCH Director of Policy Julie Dworkin said "we have always had serious concerns about the validity of the Point-in-Time count as an accurate reflection of trends in homelessness from year to year.

"The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty echoes these concerns in a report, also released today, "Don't Count On It: How the HUD Point-In-Time Count Underestimates the Homelessness Crisis in America." www.nlchp.org/documents/HUD-PIT-report2017 Among concerns cited in the report are the fact that one-night counts do not capture the transitory nature of homelessness, that people sleeping outside are often hidden from plain view, and that the Point-in-Time does not count people who are doubled-up with relatives or friends, or staying in jails or hospitals on the night of the count."

CCH completed its own estimate of homelessnsss in Chicago this year using census data that addresses many of the concerns in the report. It is an annual count, it uses extrapolation techniques to capture people that are not directly counted, and it includes doubled-up households not in the shelter system. An updated CCH count will be released early next year.

"In addition to general concerns about the Point-in-Time methodology, CCH is particularly concerned about HUD's reporting that homelessness decreased by 6.8% in Illinois," Dworkin said. "Illinois' shelter system was decimated by two years without state funding. Numerous surveys of homeless service providers found that significant cutbacks in staff forced agencies to reduce services and reduce how many people they could serve. Since the Point-in-Time relies largely on a count of those staying in shelters, this reduction in services must be accounted for when analyzing the results of the count. Until HUD recognizes the flaws in its Point-in-Time count, we will continue to struggle to have an accurate count of those experiencing homelessness nationwide."

"In many high-cost areas of our country, especially along the West Coast, the severe shortage of affordable housing is manifesting itself on our streets," said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. "With rents rising faster than incomes, we need to bring everybody to the table to produce more affordable housing and ease the pressure that is forcing too many of our neighbors into our shelters and onto our streets. This is not a federal problem—it's everybody's problem."

"All individuals deserve to have a safe and decent place to call home," said Deputy Regional Administrator James A. Cunningham. "While we have made significant strides in reducing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness, we must remain committed to implementing strategies that make it a rare, brief and non-recurring event."

HUD's national estimate is based upon data reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties across the nation. Every year on a single night in January, planning agencies called 'Continuums of Care" and tens of thousands of volunteers seek to identify the number of individuals and families living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered settings. These one-night 'snapshot' counts, as well as full-year counts and data from other sources ( U.S. Housing Survey, Department of Education ), are crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress toward reducing it.

Key National Findings of HUD's 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report:

On a single night in January 2017, state and local planning agencies ( Continuums of Care ) in Illinois reported:

- 10,798 people were homeless representing an overall decrease of 792 individuals or 6.8 percent from 2016 and a 25 percent decrease since 2010.

- Most homeless persons, 8,541 ( or 79.1% ), were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while total 2,257 ( or 26.4% ), persons were unsheltered.

- The number of unsheltered homeless individuals in 2017 ( 2,135 ) increased by 21.3 percent from 2016 and by 18.5 percent since 2010.

- The number of families with children experiencing homelessness in 2017 ( 3,904 ), decreased by 15.2 percent ( or 700 persons ) since 2016 and decreased by 42.8 percent ( 2,923 ) since 2010.

- On a single night in January 2017, 864 veterans were experiencing homelessness. Veteran homelessness decreased 9 percent ( or 85 persons ) since January 2016. Since 2010, however, veteran homelessness in Illinois declined by 23.7 percent and by nearly 46% nationally.

- Chronic or long-term homelessness among individuals increased 44.6 percent ( or 418 persons ) over 2016 levels and declined by 36.4 percent since 2010.

- The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children in 2017 is estimated to be 730 youth. This year, HUD and local communities launched a more intense effort to more accurately account for this important, difficult to count population. HUD will treat 2017 as a baseline year for purposes of tracking progress toward reducing youth homelessness.


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